Lakeside, Michigan

We just returned from a week at the beach in Michigan. We rented a house with our good friends and tried (mostly successfully) to entertain 6 kids aged 7 and under for a 24/7 playdate. Almost every day was a beach day. It was a short (ish) walk to a private entrance to the beach from our house. The beach in southwest Michigan is beautiful. The water can be a bit cool but on a hot day, it felt great.

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We brought sand toys to build sand castles and some cars to drive around the castles. We had watering cans and boats to play in the water. We also brought a football and floaties. There was a sandbar not very far off shore that the bigger kids and the adults (except for me) liked to swim out to.

The water is quite clear there and really very nice. After playing and swimming and building, the kids were glad to have juice boxes to get refreshed. We froze them before we left and they were perfect and cold for a hot summer day. Lakeside, Michigan and the surrounding area is a great place for a beach vacation, especially if you don’t live close to the ocean.

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Silver Beach Carousel and Whirlpool Compass Fountain, Michigan

Last week when we were staying in Lakeside, Michigan with the Weitls, we were looking for something to do other than our usual visit to the beach. We decided to head north up Red Arrow Highway (Hwy 12) and make a few stops. First we went to Harbert Swedish Bakery for breakfast, then cherry picking at Jollay Orchards, and then to the Silver Beach area in St. Joseph. We parked right behind the Silver Beach Center ($2/hr) and went  in to ride the Silver Beach Carousel. There were some neat different carousel figures for the kids to ride and the music was classic. The kids and adults enjoyed the ride.

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After riding the carousel, we walked out the front door and across the street to the Whirlpool Compass Fountain. It was a hot day and the kids enjoyed cooling off in the water fountains. It took them a few minutes to get started, but once they got going they were all soaking wet. There were fountains that came up from the ground and others that sprayed from above. It alternated between the two which was a fun change.

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Whirlpool Compass Fountain CollageThere were many other things to do in the Silver Beach area. There is a children’s museum and a discovery zone as well as beach access. When we were there, there was an art fair as well. You could easily spend a day there and still have more to do. After the fountain, we walked back to the parking lot and headed back to our vacation house.

Jollay Orchards, Coloma, Michigan

After stopping for breakfast at Harbert Swedish Bakery on Red Arrow Highway, we headed north toward Jollay Orchards. We had found some information online and it seemed like a kid friendly place so we gave it a try. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, we knew the information we had wasn’t exactly accurate. The ferris wheel was an antique and did not run and the Western town was not really anything the kids could do. We decided quickly to just go for the u-pick cherries and hope that was enough to do.

We got 2 small buckets and climbed on the hay rack ride to head out into the orchard. The kids were excited and ready to start picking right when we climbed off. We were picking sour cherries and planned to make pies with them when we got back to the house.

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Everyone enjoyed picking the cherries and some of us enjoyed eating them too. I think if everyone had been eating them that we could have had a pit spitting contest! Cara may or may not have eaten a few cherry pits along the way.

Jollay OrchardsAfter we filled the two buckets, we gathered the kids to take some pictures. The sun was shining in their faces but they still look pretty cute anyway!

Six Kids Cherry PickingWe rode the hay rack back to the Farm Market and paid the extra $.30/lb to have our cherries pitted with the pitting machine. They were still only $1.29/lb which I thought was a pretty good deal. The kids had fun and we got our main ingredient for the amazing pies that Jamie would bake for us!

New Buffalo Township Memorial Park

Sometimes when on a beach vacation, I need a little break from the beach. I want to have a place for the kids to have fun and not have to deal with the sand being everywhere when we are done. In southwest Michigan just north of New Buffalo along Red Arrow Highway, there is a neat little park that was just perfect for the kids. We went on a super hot day and were glad to have the splash pad to cool off in. If you come prepared with swimsuits (we decided to just go with clothes since we were doing other things before), be aware that on a sunny day that the ground is super hot. I left Cara’s socks on so she wouldn’t burn her feet. I sat on one of the benches  and it was VERY hot. Image

There is also a regular playground directly next to the spray park. It had a lot of climbing things and the kids really liked it. The adults liked the shelter as that was the only shade we could find. It really was a very hot day. If it had been a bit cooler, I think we would have stayed there for a long time. The entire park and shelter area was very clean and well maintained. It would be a great place for a picnic too as there were many picnic tables in the shelter. So next time you are in southwest Michigan, cruising along on Red Arrow Highway, make a stop at New Buffalo Township Memorial Park and cool off at the splash park. The kids loved it!

Jack Pine Lumberjack Shows, Mackinaw City, Michigan

When I was about 9 years old, my parents took my brother and me to a lumber jack show when we were in Oregon. I remember it still to this day almost 25 years later. One year ago today, when looking for things to do, we found a lumber jack show and Derek and I couldn’t wait to take the kids. It was a small event with just two competitors but it was very well done. Derek and I enjoyed it as much as the kids.There were different events that included log rolling, sawing, chopping, and some humorous commentary as well.  If you are in the area, I highly recommend it. The kids and adults enjoyed it and had a great time!

June 7, 2012 Michigan (98)

http://www.jackpinelumberjackshows.com

Jack Pine MI 2012